Coronavirus Outbreak: How Apple, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Microsoft, Instagram are helping users cope with the pandemic

Combating fake news or misinformation about COVID-19 is also one of the most important issues right now for social media platforms.


As the coronavirus outbreak widens in different parts of the world, affecting millions, popular social media platforms and other tech companies are doing their bits to educate users.

Social media platforms are giving information to make people aware of the virus outbreak, symptoms, number of active cases in particular areas, treatment, safety measures, and helpline numbers.

Here is how they are combating the issue of misinformation and educating users about COVID-19.

 Coronavirus Outbreak: How Apple, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Microsoft, Instagram are helping users cope with the pandemic

Image: Pixabay

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is one of the most used messaging platforms for people in India and sadly, it can be used as a catalyst to spread fake news as well. So, to feed users with authentic information and avoid panic, the government has officially rolled out an official WhatsApp contact number.

As tweeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, users can get all the accurate information about COVID-19 by simply sending a "Hi" on 9013151515 number and save it as "MyGov Corona Helpdesk". You can get all the answers about your nearest test centres, helpline numbers, symptoms, professional help and more. Text replies, YouTube videos and infographics will be sent to you as per your query.


World Health Organisation WhatsApp Business account has also been created that gives the stats, travel advice, mythbusters, and other info on COVID-19 from all over the world.

WhatsApp has also announced that it will donate $1 million on fact-checking related to coronavirus pandemic.

Apple

Apple has also taken steps to provide its users with authentic information in the time of crisis. You just have to ask Siri, "do I have coronavirus". It will ask you a few questions about the symptoms that you are experiencing. In life-threatening cases, it tells you to call 911 and get help, in other cases, you are told to self-isolate yourself.

In India, when you ask Siri the same question, it leads you to the Ministry of Health website.

YouTube

YouTube desktop and smartphone app show a COVID-19 related notification from Ministry of Health, as soon as you open the home page. This notification leads to the website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. You can find all the reliable information like helpline numbers, number of passengers screened, number of people discharged, helpline email address, list of cases statewise and so on.

Microsoft

Microsoft launched a COVID-19 tracking website that shows active cases, recovered case and number of deaths country-wise. You will also see relevant news about the outbreak on the website. Currently, it shows 384 active cases, 24 recovered cases and 7 deaths in India.

Google

Google has also launched its own tracking website that helps users get the required information about COVID-19 including safety tips, number of cases, FAQs and more.

Google has also launched SOS Alert on its search engine where one just needs to type "coronavirus" and on the right side, you will see prevention, symptoms, treatments and overview. You can also tap on the Ministry of Health and WHO website as well.

Twitter

Twitter recently announced that it will now be giving blue ticks (verified) to the users providing authentic COVID-19 health-related information on Twitter. The tweet read: "We are working with global public health authorities to identify experts and have already Verified hundreds of accounts, but there’s more to do and we could use your help."

A separate tweet explained how users can update their email addresses associated with any authoritative organisation or institute.

Facebook

Facebook has also rolled out a COVID-19 Information Center that pops up on the top of the news feed and latest news and information as well as resources and tips to stay healthy. The feature was initially launched in the US and was later rolled out in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, the UK. Facebook says that it will rollout the same in more countries in the coming days.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg has donated its emergency reserve of 720,000 masks to provide health workers with more protective gear.

Facebook has now announced that it will partner with developers to provide free services to government health organisations so that they can use Messenger "to scale their response to the COVID-19 crisis". The developers will create messaging solutions to educate users about challenges related to COVID-19 like social distancing and will keep them updated about the current happenings related to coronavirus.

Instagram

The Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform, Instagram, has rolled out a few stickers that include #thankhealthheroes, stay home and so on, encouraging people to stay at home and thank all the medical professionals giving their best in the time of crisis.

Instagram will also show stories of all those who are using this "Stay home" stickers in their stories.

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As per Instagram, when one searches #coronavirus, they can find the source of a particular post as well. The company is also working on removing misinformation from the platform.

Telegram

A new official Telegram group called "MyGov Corona News Desk" has been created to keep the misinformation away from users amid the coronavirus pandemic. This group will not let the users ask their queries but will inform them about the Dos and Donts, state of public transportation and other important details.


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